Wills and Trusts
A will protects your property and can especially be helpful if you want to distribute your property to people other than your relatives. Without a will, state law dictates the distribution of your property. The default plan normally distributes property to relatives. An attorney familiar with Texas state laws can legally draft a will that is valid and stands up in court. In Texas, state law mandates the required elements of a legally valid will, including the signatures of at least two witnesses.
At Shelton & Reecer P.L.L.C., our attorneys know state law and are board certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization in estate planning and probate law. We are also skilled in probate litigation should an issue regarding a will or trust arise.
Frequently Asked Questions about wills
What happens if someone dies without a will?
State law uses a default will for anyone who dies without a will. Typically, the spouse and children of the person who died inherit the property. If there is no spouse and no children, the decedent’s parents take the property, followed by siblings, grandparents, and children of the grandparents. If no relative can be found, the property eventually belongs to the state. Note, though, that as part of the probate process, the decedent’s creditors lay claim to the property after certain allowances for spouse and children.
What is a living will?
A living will stipulates whether medical treatment should be withdrawn or withheld if it only serves to prolong the process of dying. It is enacted in the event you are no longer able to make your own medical decisions. It documents which, if any, certain medical procedures, including cardiac resuscitation, mechanical respiration, and feeding tubes, may be administered if you become incapacitated.
In a trust, a party known as the trustee has legal ownership of property transferred to him by the person making the trust (the grantor). Trust assets are invested and or managed for the benefit of one or more beneficiaries. A living trust can be established during the grantor’s lifetime. A testamentary trust can be established in a will. A trustee can be either an individual or an institution, such as a bank.
Shelton & Reecer P.L.L.C. can assist you in establishing the following kinds of trusts:
- Irrevocable life insurance trusts—benefits your spouse or children and sidesteps estate taxes
- Charitable trusts—provides funds for an existing charity or to create a new one
- Pet trusts—provides for continued care of your pets
- Living trusts—created by you, naming yourself or another as trustee generally for the purpose of avoiding probate
- Special needs trusts—appoints a trustee to hold property for the benefit of your disabled child after your death
- Family trust—protects your assets within the family and with certain tax advantages
Frequently Asked Questions about trusts
Why should I consider trusts in my estate planning?
Trusts can provide you and your family with certain benefits by—
- Distributing and managing your assets the way you want to now and after your death
- Sidestepping probate
- Retaining family assets and finances within the family
- Protecting your beneficiaries from creditors
- Minimizing death taxes
- Maintaining privacy
Do you have to have a certain size of estate to benefit from a trust?
Trusts can benefit both large and small estates. Larger estates in particular can take advantage of tax savings through trusts. But often, people do not realize just how large their estate is until they conduct an inventory of assets. A skilled trusts attorney can help guide you through the process to determine the size and value of your estate.
If you are concerned about the distribution of your assets upon your death or need help in drafting a will or establishing a trust, rely on the Denton County firm that specializes in these areas. Call Shelton & Reecer L.L.P at 940-382-3168 or use our convenient online form to tell us about your situation.